Here are 3 epic performances on modular that aren’t noodling

We revere the modular synthesizers of the past, but that ignores important innovations both in how modules are designed and how people play. Apart from the fact that Eurorack is quite a lot slimmer, lighter, and cheaper than its predecessors, we have vastly expanded the range of what modules do in ways that lend themselves to live performances. That’s not to say it’s for everyone – a modular performance still involves a lot of pre-patching for people, and there’s clearly something to be said for computers and standalone gear. But that’s perhaps partly the point: the modular solution can stand …

Fully loaded, the environment resembles portions of FL Studio or Ableton Live. You get a conventional mixer display, and easy access to your tools.

A totally free DAW and live environment, built in SuperCollider: LNX_Studio

Imagine you had a DAW with lots of live tools and synths and effects – a bit like FL Studio or Ableton Live – and it was completely free. (Free as in beer, free as in freedom.) That’s already fairly cool. Now imagine that everything in that environment – every synth, every effect, every pattern maker – was built in SuperCollider, the powerful free coding language for electronic music. And imagine you could add your own stuff, just by coding, and it ran natively. That moves from fairly cool to insanely cool. And it’s what you get with LNX_Studio, a …

messe16_ - 1

Here’s all the coolest new gear from Messe and Superbooth, in one place

There’s a Eurorack craze on. Synth fever continues to spread. Instrument and software makers keep innovating. And there was reason to time all of this new gear madness to the beginning of this month – with not one but two massive trade shows, each a short Bahn ride away from one another in Germany. It’s almost too much. So, we’ve put our favorites all together, to keep it all straight.

messe16 - 5

Gallery: the cool and strange at Germany’s huge Musikmesse show

It hits you at some point. It could be that you find yourself wandering rows upon rows of accordion exhibitors. Or maybe it’s weaving to avoid parades of the 100,000-odd German schoolchildren who come to look at the exhibits. Or maybe it’s seeing a room the size of an airport full of nothing but strange laser and light products for clubs. But Musikmesse remains something exceptional.


Kyoka talks about her amazing new raster-noton sounds

raster-noton is already a beloved imprint for those who care about out-there sounds. But if you thought you’d heard every click and oscillation that name could bring, you probably haven’t heard Kyoka – the Japanese-born artist who always manages to wander out into new territory. And even before we had a chance to get the least bit tired of her last outing, she’s fresh from a trip to Stockholm’s EMS with something altogether different. CDM’s Zuzana Friday invites Kyoka over to charm and wow us all over again.

superbooth - 27

In photos, the synth nerd extravaganza Superbooth

It’s genuinely hard to describe the Superbooth in words. The synthesizer lovefest dreamt up by Andreas Schneider and team in Berlin was a collision between a festival and a trade show, scattered in impromptu fashion through the chambers of the former East Germany radio facility. Visitors wandered from knob-twiddling displays into quadraphonic concerts, from combined performance-demos by modular makers and artists to encounters with legendary synth pioneers over a queue for beer. And the whole week was an exercise in overabundance. Far from the linear experience of a convention floor, the maze of studios and halls at the Funkhaus venue …


Now you can plug a guitar or stompbox into your Eurorack

At last, the world of modular meets the world of stompboxes. It’s a no brainer: after all, a modular rack already has a lot in common with a crowded pedalboard. I expected that our friends at Bastl Instruments from Czech would come up with something for this week’s Superbooth synth gathering here in Berlin, and sure enough, they’ve got three new modules, with one stompbox-friendly standout.


Premiere: Lose yourself in these cutting-edge modular productions

Twirling timbres of Tiptop titillate, tantalizingly… a modular synth maker has made its own music label, and to kick things off, CDM gets the premiere of a hypnotic music video. First, the music video, made for the compilation’s opening track by Matt Lange. It’s the work of director Nicola De Luca, and I have to admire its simplicity: an entrancing rotating blossom, sculpted in video in a series of horizontal delays and three-dimensional transformations. Description: The video is a metamorphosis of forms that investigates kinetic connections between the motions of rotation and material decontextualization of objects. It takes inspiration from …


Remembering Keith Emerson and his titanic synth legacy

In news reverberating with synthesizer lovers and keyboardists everywhere, Keith Emerson died last night in his home in Santa Monica at age 71. Mr. Emerson’s impact on the world of keyboards and synthesizers is hard to overstate. And that impact may be wider now than ever before. If the musical idiom in which he worked was distinctive attached to its particular era, the role of the synthesizer he helped establish is one that now reaches around the world to artists across genres.


Eowave’s Ribbon 2 synth-controller is an updated classic

Amidst a bumper crop of new, multi-dimensional hardware, it’s a wonderful time for the expressive controller. But Eowave’s unique boutique instrument is one in the classic mold: a long, touch-sensitive strip that can act as a synth or controller. It’s now updated in a new model called the Ribbon 2.